Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Favorites: Joe's Picks

It is approaching that time of year when we look back, and take stock of our lives.

Over the blog's lifetime, it has grown with the addition of "
pop-ups" and facebook, as well as more "bar chat".

Those of you that are regular visitors to this blog know that myself and Chris are the main contributors.

It was Chris that first instigated the blog, my contribution was merely to come up with the drinks and possibly add a bartender's note at the end. It is through the dedication of Chris, (I admit that I sometimes need a poke from Chris to keep up my end of the agreement,) that the Blog has been allowed to grow. Anyway, enough saying nice things about Chris (I am sure this is making him a little uncomfortable,) let's get on with the chat.

With the premise of looking back, I have chosen my three favorite cocktails from the blog.

The first is the Pimm's Cup, (September, 2009.)

I like this drink for a number of reasons. It looks good, tastes great and gives me the opportunity to tell my Pimms story while making the drink.

A number of years ago a retired butler to the Queen of England was selling some of his memorabilia from decades of service at the Palace. Amongst his possessions was a hand-written note from the Queen Mother about an upcoming picnic for the royal Family. At the end of the note she had underlined the statement "Don't forget to bring the Pimms."

My second choice is the Boston Tea Party, (October 2009.) I am rather proud of this drink, obviously it is a variation on theLong Island Ice Tea, only bettah, (Boston Joke.)

At the Passage Lounge, (H.Q. of the GDitWTW,) it is one of the most popular cocktails. I have had a number of local bartenders tell me that costumers come into their bars and ask for the Boston Tea Party.

My final choice is my all time personal favorite cocktail, the Bombay Sapphire Martini Straight up With A Twist, (February 2010.)

This cocktail is simple, clean, straightforward and leaves you feeling very satisfied. Very much like myself in many ways.


Joe the Bartender

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Santa Toronja

"Santa;" Spanish for Saint. "Toronja;" Spanish for grapefruit. And of course, that Spanish for the tequila!

The name pretty much sums up this week's Greatest Drink. Oh, but a tasty one it is, too! Try this one out! You'll dig it!

The Recipe:

Into a large pint glass full of ice, add:

- a 4 count of silver tequila,

- a 2 count of St-Germain,

- a 4 count Grapefruit Juice, (Chris prefers the "Ruby Red!")

- a drop of Grenadine.

- Shake. Shake that thing like Charo's maracas!

- Strain over fresh ice,

- garnish with a fresh slice if lime and a maraschino cherry!

Chris's Notes: Recently, I began watching a new television show. It's called "Real and Chance: Legend Hunters," and stars these two brothers, a pair of South Central L.A. city slickers, all hip-hop and urban mod, going into deep wilderness to chase down creatures of mythical proportions. This particular entry in the Reality Show format plays heavily on the fish-out-of-water scenarios and more frequently than not has our two stars in the very middle of trucker-tanned rednecks and thick, inhospitable nature.

But it was while watching this show that I first saw the starting point of week's Greatest Drink. The stars, Real and Chance, (who also call themselves "Stallionaires," for some reason,) between actual "legend" encounters, often get a chance to "let down their hair," (sometimes literally as well as figuratively,) and will, more frequently than not, order a tequila and grapefruit juice.

"Oh, these boys got something right there!" I thought, and went straight out to buy some assorted grapefruit juices for further home research that week. It was the mix with the Ruby Red grapefruit juice that was most welcomed by my ever-discerning palate, so that is my first recommendation.

Still, there was something amiss. "What would Joe do?" I asked myself. And I knew instantly St-Germain was the ticket!

Thusly, I was very excited to see get to the Passage Lounge and run this by Joe!

Joe's Notes: As usual, Chris came bounding into the Passage Lounge, "Hey, Joe, you know what I have been drinking all week? Tequila and grapefruit juice!"

"You have been drinking all week?" I quipped.

Choosing to ignore my snippy remark he continued. "I think it is a great combo that we could really work with." Chris suggested that we add St-Germain. Not having the "Ruby Red" grapefruit juice at hand, I added a spot of grenadine for color and added sweetness. The result was more then worthy of an entry into TGDitWTW.

I don't use grapefruit juice in many cocktails. In fact, apart from the Seabreeze, the Pale Deacon and the Salty Dog, no others spring to mind.

It is not that I dislike grapefruit, it is just they do hold somewhat of an unpleasant childhood memory. The breakfast table, when I was a child in the U.K., was completely devoid of Count Chocula, Fruit Loops or any thing that a child may actually choose to eat. Oh no! We were given a halved grapefruit covered in sugar. The sugar made the bitter acid of the fruit barely palatable, the more sugar you added, the less of the grapefruit you could taste. So while the grapefruit acid ate away at your stomach lining, the sugar rotted your teeth, (think Austin Powers.) Looking back the toast was also a bit strange. Our mother only ever toasted the bread on one side. I had forgotten about this until I heard Sting's song "An Englishman in New York." In this song about Quentin Crisp he mentions this odd fact.

To accompany the half-toasted bread, we where given Marmite. Marmite is a thick black paste made from yeast extract.

If we chose to decline this breakfast we could always opt for my fathers choice: Porridge. Porridge is basically oatmeal but it is made so thick you could actually slice it like meatloaf. The thick splodge of porridge was then floated in cold milk and a dollop of strawberry jam was added.

I should probably leave all this behind me and give grapefruit another go. After all, I did very much enjoy this week's cocktail.

Although, I did read somewhere that grapefruit juice adversely interacts with some antipsychotic medications, (not that I have to worry about that just yet.)


Joe the Bartender



This week's video: Hard Knock Life by Dr. Evil and Mini-Me.

Yeah, I know. Sorry.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Home-Made Liqueurs, #3: Coffee Liqueur

'Part Three' in our Home-Made Liqueurs series brings us the long awaited, (and requested!) coffee liqueur. This is an easy recipe that yields terrific results and will certainly enhance your cocktail recipes and give them that extra special touch.


1 quart 80 proof vodka

4 cups granulated sugar

3 cups water

2 ounces instant coffee mixed with 1 cup of boiling water

1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise


Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring frequently.

Lower heat and simmer for twenty minutes.

Allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix the syrup with the coffee mixture and vodka.

Add the vanilla bean.

Put in a glass container and shake every day for two weeks.

Chris's notes: Years ago, I received a bottle of Home-Made Coffee Liqueur as a gift. At the time, I remember thinking, "How Cool!" The liqueur itself was delicious, the drinks made with it came with the story of the ingredients' origins, and even the bottle, being an ornate receptacle, saw repeated uses.

Coffee Liqueur is a key ingredient in many specialty cocktails, including B-52s, The Nutty Irishman, and a Tootsie Roll.

Sure to punch up your next cocktail, provide a conversation topic for your uncomfortable silences, or, with the Holidays well and truly upon us, this makes an awesome gift, (I just happen to know!)


I am very happy about this week's video: Humble Pie, "Black Coffee!"

Oh yeah!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Lobstertini

Hmmm. This may not be a cocktail one might make easily at home. But it absolutely HAS to be included in The Greatest Drink in the World... This Week's library of cocktails.

The Recipe:
Nah. I am not gonna even PRETEND that this is something someone may be able to do at home! If you want to try this cocktail, you cannot bring this mountain to Mohammed. You need to go out and get one in its natural environment: The Shanty.

Diane's notes: The Lobstertini, (now made nationally famous for being featured in the Triple D episode titled "Wings, Dogs & Claws") is simply our version of a dirty martini made with vodka. We use Absolut, but you could use any vodka you like. We have had mixed success with citrus or lemon flavored vodkas, but I feel that it overpowers the subtle flavor of the lobster essence.

"Lobster Essence" is simply lobster stock (or broth) which we make by simmering together lobster bodies, carrots, celery, onion & fresh herbs for a few hours. We then strain it once and then run it through a coffee filter to make it less cloudy. Chill and keep for one week, refrigerated. (I usually make a large batch and freeze it in quart containers to be handy when needed.)

Then make your dirty martini as you normally would, replacing the olive juice with a healthy dose of
lobster essence - then garnish the drink with a lobster claw and a twist of lemon.



Chris's notes: To be honest, I have been aware of The Lobstertini for some time. And I knew that eventually I had to try it. It loomed over me like driving towards a storm cloud on the horizon and me with no reverse gear.
I was very intimidated. There was an imaginary wall in my mind that kept cocktails on one side and seafood on the other, and never the twain shall meet!

Those of you who can look at this image and NOT be intimidated, well, you are either more adventuresome than I or, more likely, you've had one of these.

And that is the trick, there, isn't it? This isn't a cocktail to just sit back and kill time with conversation and an appetizer. This baby is The Show.

I ordered mine, with a feeling akin to strapping on a parachute and stepping to open door of a plane, ("I can do this!") and when it arrived, I was very impressed with the presentation!

My first sip was also quite a surprise. It was hardly the "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern " after-school special that I was expecting. It was subtle in flavor and damned tasty.
True, one must be a fan of martinis to like this: There is no dodging that, (fortunately, I am!). But the "lobster essence" was far less intrusive or overwhelming than that of the olive brine in a Dirty Martini.

The recommended approach, I was instructed, is to eat the lobster claw at the same time as enjoying the cocktail, and to swirl forkfuls of meat around in the drink before biting into it.

In the end, this was not just a drink, it was a snack. And an experience!
I readily admit that it would be easy to mock this drink, because it is very different. It is a bit more difficult to mock it, however, after you try.

It is one tasty treat.

P.S. If I ever get around to finishing my "Most Interesting-Looking Cocktails" list, this baby is a contender for the top spot!

This week's "Barely-related video" is almost completely unrelated! Please enjoy "Treat Her Right," by that legendary entertainer, Mr. T!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bartender's Margarita

Due to a reader on the Greatest Drink's facebook page, Lauren A., Tequila made it to the front of the pack for ingredients this week.

Lauren offered the use of some new videos from Olmeca Tequila, to enhance the site even further; chuck in an element of education, and maybe even a dash of class! (Be sure to click on some of Olmeca's other videos for further viewing!)

Thank you Lauren!

And it twas thus that The Bartender's Margarita found this week's spotlight! And a well earned spotlight it is!

The Recipe:

Into a cocktail shaker full of ice, add:

- a 4 count of gold tequila

- a 2 count of triple sec,

- a 3 count of sweet & sour

- a splash of cranberry juice

- the juice of 1/2 large lime, and include the peel,

- Shake well. Actually, shake the living daylights out of that thing!

- Pour all ingredients, (including the lime,) into a 16 ounce pint glass with a salted rim.

- top with a float of Grand Marnier.

- Serve, (without a straw!)

Chris's Notes: I am a big fan of tequila. So I was pretty quick to accept Lauren A's offer of the Olmeca videos for this week, and I called Joe straight away, (easy with my new-fangled "speed dial" buttons!,) to request a good tequila drink!

Joe, in his usual manner, seemed really excited about the idea!

He already had a candidate in mind for the occasion, and would present it to me on my next visit.

Just look at that thing, would ya? You can SEE the taste in that baby! The tequila reigns supreme on the palate, true, but all of those other flavors are not lost, NO! The delicate dance of tickling the taste buds finds this week's entry appealing to almost all of one's tongue: Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and all in such balance.

Its like a party in the mouth!


Joe's Notes: This week's entry into TGDitWTW library is the Bartender's Margarita. We chose this particular cocktail as we felt it embodied our blog's mantra, i.e. quality and fresh ingredients. There are as many margarita recipes as there are bartenders serving them, and at the end of the day, it is all down to one's own taste preference.

But the margarita does bring to light one of the few things that irritate me as a bartender:

Why salt the rim of the glass if you are going to drink from a straw? (Note that in this week's photo the drink is purposely missing the straw.)

While we are on the subject of things that irritate me, let me mention the Martini. Do not order a Martini and then return it because it has gin in it. (Don't look innocent, you know what I'm talking about!)

I don't intend to rant but, don't order a cocktail if you don't like the main ingredient "Can you make me a Dark & Stormy but with something other then rum?" The answer is "No."

Never call me over and then raise your finger to me as an indication to hold while you finish your conversation or phone call. It is very likely that you will not see me again for the rest of the evening.

Don't come to my bar drunk and expect me to serve you. I do not mind getting you to your happy place myself, but I do not want another bartender's sloppy seconds.

If we all follow the "Rules," I think we will all get along splendidly. Please feel free to respond with what irritates you about bartenders. Remember, it is a two way street.

Cheers, Joe



This week's music video is DIRECTLY RELATED!!!

Actually, this scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure could be the official video for The Champs' 1958 hit, "Tequila!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guy Fawkes

So, Friday is November fifth.
Joe has a special treat in store for those familiar with the holiday associated with this date back in Great Britain. And a great cocktail it is, too!
Enjoy the "Guy Fawkes!"

The Recipe:

Into a cocktail shaker full of ice, pour:

- a 4 count of Bombay Sapphire Gin,
- a 2 count of Canton Ginger Liqueur,
- a 2 count of Orange Juice,

Shake viciously,

- Strain into a large martini glass,

- Drop in a single maraschino cherry

Original recipe by Joe the Bartender, The Passage Lounge, Salem, MA

Joe's notes: This week's cocktail is dedicated to the celebration in the U.K. of Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night.
Depending on which side of the Atlantic you are reading this on, you may be unaware of the great celebration of November the 5th.

To give a short history lesson: a little over four hundred years ago Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up King James, (the 1st,) during the opening ceremonies at the House of Parliament in London. His plot was foiled.
He was arrested, taken to the tower of London, tortured and stretched on the rack. He was then hung, drawn and quartered and his decapitated head was displayed for all of London to see on traitors gate.

Every year the children in the U.K. celebrate by making an effigy of Guy. Similar to a scarecrow, old clothes are stuffed using newspaper, straw and rags. The"Guy" is then paraded around the neighborhood, usually in an old baby carriage, his head lolling back while his arms and legs hang over the side, depicting his torture.

The children call out "Penny for the Guy". The money collected is used to buy fireworks for the evenings events. Huge bonfires are built. When the day has turned to darkness the bonfires are lit, the sky is filled with fireworks and Guy is thrown on the bonfire to burn. Quite often effigy's of modern day religious or political figures are also thrown on the fires.

It is all a bit of harmless fun, although to see your own effigy burned on the fire most be quite unsettling.

I have very found memories of being a child in the U.K. standing with my family, chanting Guy Fawkes rhymes and watching the fires burn.

"Remember, remember, the Fifth of November! the Gunpowder Treason and Plot.
I see no reason why The Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot..."

"Rumour, rumour, pump and derry! Prick his heart and burn his body,

And send his soul to Purgatory."

Enjoy your Guy Fawkes Cocktail.


Chris's notes: Yikes! This blog packs some educational value, anyways! (Even the teetotalers can benefit from reading here now and again!)

I gotta say, I really enjoyed this drink. I mean, sure, I know almost nothing about "Guy Fawkes" or the holiday that surrounds his story. In fact, I had never heard of it before Joe told me that he wanted to do a drink for it.

I did enjoy the creation process, though. Joe INSISTED on Gin, (for merry old England, of course,) with Bombay Sapphire being his Gin of choice.

He decided on Canton for a nice "Gin and Ginger" direction.

Orange Juice came about originally out of necessity: Joe wanted a drink that looked like fire, (the burning of the effigy, and all,) but worked so nicely together. And it was research regular, Michael B. who suggested dropping the cherry to the bottom for the final touch.

The outcome: Brilliant! The gin is the dominant flavor here, all tangy and sharp. The flavors of ginger and orange play such a pivotal role in cushioning the taste, though, that what you get is a collection of flavors in perfect balance.

Absolute yummers!

This week's "Barely-Related Video" is almost entirely unrelated to this week's drink. Just another example of "foreign." Try to enjoy... "Elektronik/Supersonik" by Vlad!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pomegranate Martini

So thoughtful!

That Joe, obviously worried about my health, he flat-out insisted that I have his Pomegranate Martini for this week's Greatest Drink in the World!

If you choose to read on about this "superfruit concoction," you will see why it is such a healthy option. If you order one for yourself, you will see why it made it as The Greatest Drink in the World... This Week.

The Recipe:
While chilling a large martini glass, into a shaker full of ice, add:

- a 2 count of Absolute Vodka
- a 2 count of POM Pomegranate Juice
- the juice of 1/4 of a large lime, (freshly squozen with Joe's new "Mexican Elbow!")

Strain into the now-chilled martini glass

Joe's Notes: There are a number of pomegranate-flavored vodkas on the market. I chose to use Van Gogh as I believe it to be the smoothest and it is less sweet then many of the other brands available. When mixing the Pomegranate Martini it is important to only use fresh lime juice, Rose's lime juice makes the drink way too sweet.

As you probably know, the antioxidants in pomegranate juice have many health benefits, not least is the claim that it is 40% as effective as Viagra, (although I don't know if 40% would be beneficial enough under the circumstances.)

This somewhat ties in with pomegranates being known as the forbidden fruit found in the garden of Eden. Adam apparently was way ahead of his time and if he was around today, he would probably be the CEO of Pfizer!

Pomegranates, or pomegranate extract, has been used for centuries in herbal medicine. Many of these "old wives tales " are making a comeback in new products. I remember as a kid being made to clean my teeth with baking soda. Now, it is featured in many tooth paste brands. I was also made to clean my teeth with a toothbrush covered with soot from the chimney and a dash of salt. I don't know if it was supposed to have any benefit or was just some sadistic tendency of my mother. In either case, I am not expecting "Soot and Salt" toothpaste to became available any time soon.

Chris's notes: So, this weekend is Hallowe'en. As I asked Joe for (yet another!) scary-themed cocktail for the blog, he just looked at me and said, "Don't you think we've got that covered with the Red Witch from 2 weeks ago?"

Before I could get my "But..." out, he went on to tell me how he had something else in mind. Something healthy after all those Hallowe'en parties of women dressed up in "sexy cat" leotard costumes and youngish men STILL dressing up as "The Crow," pouring crappy booze and cheap draft beers down their gullets just to get sloppy for the evening.

He said how we should take "the High Road," eschew the gimmicks and present this week's greatest cocktail based on its own merits. We owe it to our readers!

Yeah, sure. Whatever.

Okay. But, as it turns out, this baby IS good. Sweet, but not too much. Rich, but not overwhelmingly so. And of course, after all those leftover "fun size" Snickers, Butterfingers, and Almond Joys, from Sunday night, something that my system perceives as "healthy" is a welcome treat, too!

Happy Hallowe'en!



And this week's video is a real "Treat!"

It is really only related to the rest of the post because this singer reminds me of 'Smilin' Bob' from those Penis Pills commercials!

Ladies and gentlemen, Eduard Khil's, Trololo!